SADIE'S (504 Adelaide West, 416-777-2343) Complete meals for $15 per person, including all taxes, tip and a fresh-squeezed juice. Average main $8. Open Monday to Friday 8 am to 3 pm, Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 4 pm. Unlicensed. Access: one step at door, another to washrooms. Rating: NNN Rating: NNNNN
Organics have become such a given in the restaurant business over the past five years that even greasy spoons are going green. Case in point: Sadie's Diner, a low-key vegetarian luncheonette launched in the shadow of the chi-chi King West strip four months ago.
"We try to make as much of our menu organic as possible," says first-time restaurateur and chef Al Ridley. "All of our eggs are free-range, our coffee and milk are organic, and most of our vegetables will be come summer."
Sadie's eco-consciousness doesn't stop there. Veggie table scraps help feed animals on a non-kill farm, and paper napkins and takeout containers are biodegradable, even if their accompanying cutlery is plastic. But that's the only thing this charming spot gets wrong.
You might remember the lovingly restored room as the short-lived Eat Me. The bright front area holds Sadie's open kitchen and a few turquoise tables topped with kitschy creamers and flanked by a red vinyl banquette. Out back, two smaller rooms are furnished with funky 50s dinette suites and a wall display dedicated to Ridley's extensive Pez dispenser collection. Over the sound system, golden oldies from the 30s through the 70s add perfect period counterpoint.
We start with cups of first-rate organic fair-trade joe ($2) from Kensington's Moonbean before digging into an impressively plated take on Huevos Rancheros ($9). Topped with two over-easy eggs, the tortilla tier also includes shredded cheddar, the house's pickled jalapeño salsa and optional chunky guacamole ($2). Paltry by Burrito Boyz standards, Sadie's vegan breakfast burrito ($8) finds a whole-wheat wrap spread with bland refried beans moderately stuffed with salsa, rubbery soy cheese and scrambled tofu. A request for hot sauce brings a 50-cent bottle of Grace's. Sigh .
We're excited to see buckwheat waffles with organic blueberries and maple syrup ($8) on the card, but disappointment sets in after the second bite of these leaden, overly dense flapjacks, more ballast than nourishment. And the loud whir of a juicer is likely the last thing Sadie's hungover Saturday lunch crowd wants to hear, but its bounty - carrot with beet and a shot of antioxidizing pomegranate ($5), say - is well worth the pain.
Despite the pancake debacle, the posse looks forward to a return trip. It begins with a spicy roasted red pepper and tomato purée ($4) whose surprising richness belies its vegan roots. And is there a better quick meal deal around than Sadie's six-buck veggie burger 'n' fries combo? Sure, it's the same prefab patty from Yves that lots of spots use, but look at the fixin's: ripe tomato, red onion, sliced dill pickles and add-on chèvre, all on a very good bun, the lot paired with irresistible not-quite frites.
Although it could have used another hour on the stove to combine its flavours properly, Ridley's beefy meat-free chili con carne ($7) comes sided with house greens. Quite possibly the best dish on Sadie's short diner card (and $6 by itself), this standard mesclun mix goes into overdrive with the addition of deliciously candied pecans in a maple syrup vinaigrette.
The same sensaysh salad shows up alongside Sadie's virtuous veggie lasagna ($8) layered with grilled eggplant, bell pepper and 'shrooms.
Watch for more health-conscious takes on classic comfort food when Sadie's opens for dinner later this spring.